On August 22, two strangers stood outside the Sagam Community Hospital (SCH) outpatient clinic. The clipboard in their hands, watchful gaze, and bright yellow letters on their polo t-shirts spelling KMET instantly told anyone watching that these men were hard at work. Their names were Tobias Oketch and Richard Miruka. They are part of KMET’s “Quality Assurance Data for Nurturing Care” study focused on implementing Early Childhood Development in Siaya County in public and private hospitals. Although they were at SCH to observe the quality of clinician record keeping, their larger study had broad impacts on community health in Sagam.
“We believe it is important to carefully observe every child’s developmental milestones to ensure the child is developing appropriate social and emotional coping mechanisms,” Tobias explained, leaning against the outer wall of the hospital.
Richard continued, “Even observing a child’s play can tell you a lot about their growth. We think it is important that this information is being well recorded by clinicians and communicated to parents”.
Richard, Tobias, and the rest of the nurturing care team follow what they term the five pillars of early child development:
- Adequate Nutrition
- Opportunities for Early Learning
- Safety and Security
- Good Health
- Responsive Caregiving
This is a framework that international health agencies like the WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank have worked to develop. Recently on May 23, 2018, an international statement was released highlighting efforts to establish a standardized metric for evaluating early child development programs. A joint statement released by the WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, notes the early plasticity of a child’s brain from pregnancy to age 3 as a major reason to focus on those five key pillars. The framework goes on to highlight how these factors are essential to the future health of a community’s younger generations. In this international report, Siaya County was mentioned as a county working to develop health bills that promote nurturing care as a key intervention in public hospitals. Government partnerships with private organizations like KMET, help to ensure that the recording keeping infrastructure is in place to successfully implement and evaluate these interventions.
SCH is committed to fulfilling the targets towards instilling Early Childhood Development and ensuring a better future for Siaya’s children.
For further information on the international Nurturing Care framework, you can read the report. Also included is a brief newsletter highlighting the efforts Siaya County has taken to establish this program in its local communities.
This article was written by Leslie Ojeaburu